How to Run Better Lacrosse Tryouts: Less Is More!

Again, my 30+ years of experience tells me that less can be more. I like to run fewer stations and more full-field scrimmage. So then we divide the players into two or three stations. I have listed some of my favorite tryout stations below. Players are in each station for 10 minutes and then rotate.

Shooting Station

After a very brief warm-up (we need the time for the actual tryout), I might break into a small number of stations that will run for 10 minutes or have them do it simultaneously. First, we have a station with some basic shooting drills for the short sticks, attack and middies. Whether you include the poles is up to you; I usually include them. These drills will give you an immediate read on which poles can handle the stick or go with their weaker hand. I used to run individual player shooting evaluations, right and left hand, scoring on a scale from one to five. It took a ton of effort, and every coach/evaluator had a different scale in his own mind. Keeping it fast paced and moving has been so much more effective.

3v2 Station

Next, I suggest a 3v2 station. Now in most cases we are on a single field, and in the interest of space, I put one of the cages on the sideline on one end of the field and run the 3v2 on a ‘baby' half field. In this station, we have short sticks and poles. The reason I love 3v2 here is that it opens up the field and allows evaluators to get a clear picture of who can move the ball as well as the very basics of sliding and field acumen for the defenders. It might surprise you, but in this station we run the poles on both offense and defense. Defense players also need to look up and recognize the open man.

4v4 Station

The final station is the 4v4. We have learned form the best NCAA coaches that this is the best way for the players to demonstrate their skills in an even scenario. It opens up the field for the players to see as well as drive. In this station, we have short sticks as well as poles, but the poles play only defense. We also throw in some variations. The first time out in a group, the first player to get the ball from the coach is not allowed to pass before he drives to the cage. Or possibly on the second rotation (we usually leave four offensive and four defensive players out on the field for two reps) on the first pass the defense needs to double the ball. And of course on either rotation, if the defense or goalies get the ball, they immediately clear, and the next eight players come out.

Following the three stations, we are now about 40-45 minutes in. We used 10 minutes for warm-ups and 30 minutes for the three stations.

Short Full Field – Ten Minutes

At this point, I love to use 3v2 on a 70-yard full field. Many coaches run this drill. The goalie passes the ball to a streaking outlet player. Three offensive players sprint the 70-yard short field, where two defenders are waiting to play 3v2. The play is very quick. In my version, the last player to touch the ball or the shooter goes into one of the three lines behind the cage and the other two become the new defenders for when the ball comes back down. The goalie makes a save, or the defender gets the ball, throws back to the goalie, who hits one of the three players breaking out to go downfield, coming from the lines behind the cage, and quickly we go up and down. This gives the evaluators and idea of team speed and individual speed in transition. Again in this drill we use all the players, poles and shorties, in all positions. If you need more information on this drill in more detail, just send me an e-mail.

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